Hands On: Gorogoa, A Puzzle Game About Pictures

By Graham Smith on December 4th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Let me explain this to you.

Stop. Look. Listen. Think. Gorogoa is a puzzle game which is part room escape, part jigsaw, part comic book, and in which your every action re-contextualises its imagery and expands your perception. It is serene, mind-expanding and best of all exciting.

Let me explain more. This makes no sense until I’ve explained it more.

At its most basic, Gorogoa is about separating, overlaying and connecting images in order to manipulate the worlds within those images.

But you’re not just manipulating images. You’re also creating an unusual movement through time and space. It’s twice as mind-bending as using the portal gun is in Portal, as you shift characters, objects and your view not only from one side of a room to another, but seemingly between different realities.

I need to give examples. This makes no sense without examples.

The game is split into four squares, and in the top left square there is a room, and in that room there is a window, and outside that window there is a city. You grab the image and drag, and the window and surrounding walls come away. You now you have two images: one unadulterated view of the city, and one window frame with a view onto a blank canvas.

You find a hotspot within the image and zoom in on the city until you find a door. You do the same again, separating the doorway and forming a portal looking onto a blank canvas. You realise the door you left behind is now a small gravestone, the city having given way to a patch of grass beneath a tree.

Next you zoom out of the panel with the empty window, and find a room with a cupboard with a young boy inside. He’s looking for something. You place the rooftop doorway atop the image of the boy in a cupboard, and he steps out, shifting from his darkened room to the rooftop.

I need to show you a video. This makes no sense without seeing it in motion.

This is the earliest possible puzzle in the game and the complexity spirals from there. You’ll zoom in five times on the wings of a butterfly and zoom out once to find yourself in a room in a city that’s being bombed. You’ll connect images together, linking weighted objects and sloped shelves in one dimension with objects in another in order to make objects tumble between the frames.

As individual actions, these sound like so many other puzzle games. But Gorogoa is about unfolding nested realities. It’s about disconnecting perception from reality in a way that makes you see the world differently. You’ll start to come at each new image in the game with a new suspicion. What’s really inside here? Stop. Look. Listen. Think.

Each of these puzzles is communicated wordlessly and that makes the experience utterly charming to explore. It’s such an eye-widening shift each time you solve a puzzle makes that it’s exciting to discover what comes next, and it will make you want to press on, to blow the edges off the next set of rooms. You’ll want to show it to anyone you know who loves pictures, as its encouragement to always look closer conveys something of the wonder of art and comics and beauty.

You need to play it. This makes no sense unless you play it.

Luckily you can. Gorogoa is an entrant in this year’s IGF and I played that expanded build, but there’s an old demo from last year which adequately conveys the joys of the concept. Go and download it while we wait for the full release.

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20 Comments »

  1. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Defo going to give this a go.

    On another note, is “charming” the new 9/10? John reviewed something the other day which he said wasn’t quite charming. Whats a 10? My choice is “capital”, which is of course posh for awesome.

    • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

      According to my handbook, charming is an 8/10. Quite charming can be either a 7 or a 9, depending on whether it’s quite charming or quite charming.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Yes

        EDIT: Ahhh now I am viewing this on a PC I can see your italics. On a mobile it just looked like you had said the same thing twice.

        Italics are charming :)

  2. frightlever says:

    Been waiting for this since the demo came out. I even replay the demo every so often. Beautiful game.

  3. Crispy75 says:

    I have been looking forward to the full version of this for what feels like an age now. It’s a fantastic idea and so well executed.

  4. Premium User Badge Peptidix says:

    I did play what assume is the old demo, it is beautiful and interesting. I’d like to see what the final product looks like.

  5. thecommoncold says:

    Anyone else read this as Gorgonzola?

  6. Shieldmaiden says:

    I just played the demo and I need more.

    • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

      I’ve been playing the demo, but fortunately I seem to be irredeemably thick, so I think it’ll keep me going for a while…

  7. killingbutterflies says:

    Game of the year for me. And its only a demo.

  8. Premium User Badge amateurviking says:

    Oh my.

  9. Freud says:

    Seems like a very nice idea. Creating a sense of wonder about exploration and experimentation isn’t easy now that gamers have played so many games.

  10. Cooper says:

    Thank you for this. Heard about this on the C&C podcast and though “gotta try that out” then totally forgot.

    Wonderful little thing.

  11. harmen says:

    That was amazing. I really liked how the boy just walks along as if everything makes perfect sense and nothing weird happens.

  12. hery8us says:

    Abby. although Denise`s story is flabbergasting… on wednesday I got themselves a Land Rover Defender from bringing in $9333 this last month an would you believe ten-grand this past month. it’s by-far the most-comfortable job I’ve ever had. I started this 9-months ago and pretty much straight away startad earning over $87… p/h. try here http://goo.gl/f6e95V

  13. Phasma Felis says:

    What kind of…of horrible, wicked person records videos in 240p? Why do you hate us, Graham? What did we ever do to you? ;_;

  14. Premium User Badge Chaz says:

    Looks great but I just can’t get it to run. The load screen stops at 43%. Tried running as an admin, and are using the latest Java, but still no dice.

  15. Psymon says:

    Just a thank you for making me aware of this one. Great little demo.

  16. austinwoolcock says:

    Abby. although Denise`s story is flabbergasting… on wednesday I got themselves a Land Rover Defender from bringing in $9333 this last month an would you believe ten-grand this past month. it’s by-far the most-comfortable job I’ve ever had. I started this 9-months ago and pretty much straight away startad earning over $87… p/h.
    try here……. http://goo.gl/iITlPP